Design Issues for blind and

partially sighted people

Helen Aluko-olokun
Policy Business Partner (Access and Inclusion)
Guide Dogs
This presentation will cover:

 Visual Impairment

 Design requirements for blind and partially
sighted people

 Shared surface streets
The facts

 Only 10% of blind people have no residual vision
 Some have peripheral vision
 Others have central vision
 It is essential that designers take into account the
differing needs of many types of visual
impairment
Visual impairment

 Peripheral vision - works in low light and detects
movement
 Central vision - provides acuity and colour vision
 Design must consider:
– the best lighting to maximise use of residual vision
– the use of strong colour/tonal contrast to identify
objects
Cataracts
• Colours are less clear
• Extra light may help / may cause ‘white out’
• Small features difficult to see
Macular degeneration
• Poor depth / distance perception
• Poor fine colour discrimination
• Some colour loss
Glaucoma
• Bright light is painful and reduces vision
• Colour vision may be ‘normal’
• Obstacles need to be defined
Diabetic retinopathy
• Features of MD and glaucoma
Design requirements -
Pedestrian route
– Logical layout
– Defined, unobstructed routes
– Signage
– Street furniture
– Contrast and lighting
– Kerbs
– Tactile paving
– Cues and clues
Types of tactile surfaces

 Most common ones are:
– Blister surface
– Corduroy surface
– Segregated shared cycle track/footway surface
– Guidance path
 Others include:
– Platform edge (off-street) surface
– Platform edge (on-street) surface
– Information surface
Shared surfaces: issues for blind
and partially sighted people
 Guide dog owners, long cane users and those
with no mobility aid rely on the kerb for
orientation
Shared Surfaces –
The problems
 Eye contact
 Equal priority
 No kerbed footways
 Limited or inappropriate tactile paving
 Lack of controlled crossings
TNS Research

 Survey of 500 blind and partially sighted people
 Only 2 liked shared surface streets
 9 out of 10 concerned about shared surface
streets
 6 out of 10 said avoid them or very reluctant to
use them
Challenging shared surfaces

 Shared surfaces discriminate against blind and partially sighted
and other disabled people, effectively excluding them from the
street environment

 Clearly defined pedestrian-only paths – a ‘safe space’ – must be
provided for safer, independent travel

 Footways with kerbs, along with associated dropped kerbs and
tactile paving, must be retained – unless an alternative
delineator is demonstrated effective.
Inclusive Streets:
Design principles for blind
and partially sighted people

Ambiguity and uncertainty may instil caution in
driver….

……but can and does undermine the confidence
and independence of vulnerable pedestrians
Inclusive Streets:
Design principles
 Priority for pedestrians
 Appropriate traffic speed
 Logical layout and reference points
 clearly defined, obstacle free, pedestrian routes
 Pedestrian crossings
 Visual contrast and good quality lighting
 Maintenance and management
Inclusive Design

 Why do we tend to design for the most able of
our society and then expect the least able to
make do with add on modifications as an
afterthought?
 “Inclusive “ design from the drawing board stage
will minimise add-on design for disabled people
Quiet Vehicles

 Blind & partially sighted people are concerned
about not hearing quiet vehicles.
 Quiet vehicles are near silent at under 20 miles per
hr.
 Quiet vehicles need to generate a warning sound
under 20 miles per hr.
 Blind & partially sighted people would like sound
generated to be like traditional combustion
engines.
 That these systems should be mandatory to fit by
vehicle manufacturers.
Thank you

 For more information:
– http://www.guidedogs
.org.uk/supportus/cam
paigns/streets-
ahead/information-for-
street-designers-and-
councils/reference-
documents/

– www.dft.gov.uk